Title: White Wave
Author: Leyla Harrison
Written: June 2000
Disclaimer: This is all Chris Carter's Fault. I mean, no money is being made from this. I don't own any of these characters. I just wish I did.
Classification: XRA (translation: X-File. MSR, Angst)
Rating: Mostly R, I guess, with a bit of NC-17 thrown in along the way. Which means, if you're underage, please find something else to read.
Spoilers: Scattered throughout from various seasons, definitely post-Requiem.
Archive: Yes, please, just let me know where it's going, and please you leave my name and headers intact.

Summary: Not summarized at author's request. I don't want to give anything away. I will say this: it's dark. Very dark. Brace yourself.

Thanks: to jen, for an incredible beta read, and some incredibly valuable information about the first scene. I never would have gotten it right without her. Thanks also to the people who read this while I worked on it and told me that if I didn't finish, they'd kill me: Shann, Madeleine and Danielle.

Author's notes:

Hi everyone. I'm back.

Watching Requiem did something for me that I thought nothing could ever do: it woke up that part of me that I thought was asleep, that part of me that said, "There's nothing left that could get me all excited about the X-Files." And yet, Chris Carter did it again, and so I'm back, and I'm happy to be here. So much for permanent retirement. Never say never.

I looked over my fanfic the other day on my hard drive, and was shocked to realize that I wrote my first fanfic in June of 1995. I had no idea it was that long ago. Five years and 57 stories later, I was able to find my way back to the show and to fanfic. It's been a long ride, folks, and I wouldn't change a moment of it.

And now, on with the show.

I prepared myself for the moment but I didn't think it would actually come.

I always thought that Mulder would be back – back in time to see the baby we made together as it came into the world and took its first breath of air. I really believed it.

And yet, there I was, swollen like a watermelon, lying on my birthing bed, and Mulder was still gone. Still missing.

People were swarming around me like bees – doctors, nurses. I told them I didn't want any pain medication but for a while they had an anesthesiologist standing by with an epidural in case I changed my mind. I knew I wouldn't. I wanted to feel every pain, every push.

One of the doctors looked up from between my legs, his nose and mouth covered with a blue paper mask. "You're fully dilated, Dana. Whenever you feel the urge to push, go right ahead."

Two of the nurses came on either side of me and helped me up into a squatting position, holding my shoulders. "OK, Dana," one of them said. "Get ready to push now."

I didn't need to have them tell me what to do. I knew every step.

"Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?" the other nurse asked me. I shook my head.

"I wanted to be surprised," I told her, just as a contraction comes on hard.

It hurt like hell, just as I knew it would.

"All right, Dana!" the doctor called. "Bear down. You're doing great!"

I pushed as hard as I could, feeling the walls of my uterus as they contracted tightly. Pain ripped through me and I groaned loudly.

I released the push, breathing hard. "It's okay," one of the nurses told me, wiping my forehead with a cool cloth. "Just breathe." I breathed.

I took another breath. So close. The pain was almost unbearable, but I kept reminding myself that at the end of the pain, the baby would be out, my baby, in my arms.

"All right, Dana, relax for a minute," the doctor told me. I breathed deeply

I had a fantasy that Mulder would come striding in at just the right moment, just as the baby was being born. He would cut the cord and bring the small bundle up to my arms, where he would hold me and the baby and kiss both of us on the forehead. But there was no Mulder.

There was the doctor and the nurses and the pediatrician standing by.

It took six more good strong pushes and then the baby was out. I heard its cry and then I cried myself, almost unable to believe that the sound is coming from my baby, from my child, from the little one that I carried for all of these months.

"She's beautiful," one of the nurses said to me, looking down.

"She? It's a girl?"

The doctor nodded. "She's got all her fingers and toes." The baby let out a wail. "And a good set of lungs, too." Everyone in the room laughed. I was trying to wipe the tears and the sweat from my eyes.

The doctor held her up so I could see her. Still attached by the umbilical cord, she was covered in vernix. Her eyes were squeezed shut and she flailed slightly. "Let's get this cord cut so we can get her cleaned up for you," he told me.

I sank back on the bed, vaguely aware of the activity going on between my legs. I didn't even think about it, the pulling sensation, the massaging of my belly to get the placenta out. I was too tired to think about anything.

Anything except my daughter.

My daughter. Tears came again as I heard her cry when they placed her on my chest. They cleaned her, wrapped her in a tiny white blanket with a little pink knit cap on her head. She had her tiny hands balled into fists, pressed up against her cheek. She smelled fresh, like earth that had been turned, like blood, like the inside of my body. She radiated warmth.

I put my arms gently around her, holding her secure against my body. I tried not to shake with the force of my crying, but it was no use. She blinked her eyes open and stared off at something, her eyes unfocused, and then squeezed them shut again. She burrowed closer to me.

I put in for maternity leave at the Bureau and Skinner graciously gave me six months – which was unheard of. My daughter with her patch of auburn hair and her hazel eyes came home with the me the day after she was born, to a room filled with sunshine, a room that had been previously used for storage space. I spent months in there making it perfect – painting the walls a pale lemon, and then stenciling silver stars all over the walls. My mother bought me a white rocking chair which went in one corner. I folded little white one-piece outfits in the cabinet, and made sure I had everything from diapers to baby wipes to pacifiers. A white wood crib stood on the other side of the room, and a small musical mobile hung above it with delicate cloth stars in various pastel colors. The mobile was a gift from Skinner. It arrived at my door with a simple card a few weeks before I delivered.

There was no hesitation when it finally came to choosing a name for the baby. I hadn't thought about it in advance, and had gotten my share of quizzical stares when I had told people that. Before she had been born, for about ten minutes, I had batted around the obvious choices for a girl: Melissa. Samantha. If it was a boy, I had no idea. But then I decided not to think about it again until the baby was born.

When she was born, I knew.

I named my daughter Hope.

I spent every waking moment with her. I couldn't get enough of her.

She cried, she yawned, she waved her arms in the air. Each thing she did seemed like a little miracle to me. I was endlessly fascinated by everything she did.

The days flew by. When she was six weeks old, a phone call came that would shatter my world.

"He's been spotted," Skinner told me tersely on the phone.

"Spotted?" I asked, my heart thumping in my chest. Hope was fussing, and I was trying to soothe her. Her tiny lips finally latched onto my nipple and sucked and she was quiet except for little slurping sounds.

"What do you mean, spotted?"

"He was seen in Bellefleur by a hiker. She didn't realize it was the man on the poster until he was gone."

"But she's sure it was him?" I asked. I had to be sure. I needed to know.

"She's sure. She said he looked thinner, was wearing ragged clothing, and had more facial hair. But she was sure."

"I have to go out there," I told him.

"I've already made the arrangements. I'll pick you up in two hours."

I hung up the phone.

Mulder. I'm coming.

I left Hope with my mother. She was thrilled; to say the least. I was her only child living nearby and as a result, Hope was the only grandchild she got to see with regularity. Plus, Hope was the miracle baby – everyone knew that, but no one showed it more than my mother.

She never spoke of it; never talked about how incredible it was that I was able to get pregnant when I had been barren. She took took Hope into her heart in a way I had never seen her do with Bill or Charlie's kids.

I had pumped some breast milk, just in case I had to leave on short notice, but I feared that it wasn't enough. I had 12 hours before the flight and spent what felt like half of it with the pump attached to my breast. I brought it all over to my mother's, and she hugged me.

"Bring him home safe, Dana," she said, as I handed Hope over to her.

She kissed my sleeping daughter on the nose gently. "This little one and I will be just fine."

Skinner had made flight arrangements for both of us. He wasn't going to stay in Washington and I should have expected that. His guilt at having "lost" Mulder had been eating at him since Mulder's disappearance. The months had not been good to him. He was gaunt instead of stocky, and dark circles had grown permanently in the spaces under his eyes.

We sat on the plane in silence, neither of us able to speak. It was agreed that we would split up when we got there; Skinner would head into town and I would take the woods, in case Mulder was disoriented and felt that it was his only safety zone.

"We'll meet up back at the motel," I told him, as we parted ways at the rental car office once we had landed. The need for two cars was obvious – he needed one to get around town, and I needed one to drive out to the woods.

He nodded at me. "Your cell phone is on?" he asked.

I patted my jacket pocket and nodded.

"Call if you find anything," he said.

"You too," I told him.

Skinner and I had learned, in Mulder's absence, to speak with the minimum of words. We both knew it was too painful otherwise. There had been no room for small talk, and the only real discussions we could have were about Mulder, and neither of us were able to express how we felt beyond that discussion when I had told him about my pregnancy. I had cried. He had cried. It was the first and only time we had let our guard down with each other.

For the second day in a row, I drove out to the woods and parked at the side of the road. Getting out of the car, I stood on the orange spray-painted X that Mulder had made on the pavement almost eight years ago. In my mind's eye, I could still see him with the can of spray paint, marking that spot. I could almost feel my long-ago feelings of doubt as he had done it.

I took a deep breath and went into the woods.

Moning sun peeked through the leaves, dappling the ground in strange patterns. I listened carefully for any noises besides the ones that my footsteps made.

I walked, stood, rested. Hours went by, and then, out of nowhere, I felt something. A rush of heat. I wasn't even standing in the sun.

I knew. It was Mulder. He was near.

I stood very still and looked around. "Mulder?" I called. "Mulder?"

Nothing. No sound except for the birds in the trees. No rustling among the leaves.

"Mulder?" I called again, a little louder. I knew he was here. Hiding somewhere, watching me?

I tried to think, to get into his head. I had no idea what his mental state was like. He had been missing for almost 11 months. I had no idea what he had experienced, or what had been done to him.

I tried to remember what had been in my head when I had come back from being gone. I had been scared. Unsure.

"Mulder," I called again into the trees. "It's me. I know you're here. I just want to know that you're all right."

I listened.

Rustling. Leaves and bushes were moving. I whirled around, trying to determine which direction it was coming from.


He stepped out of the leaves about 20 feet away from me and into a patch of sun.

My heart actually stopped for a moment and I sucked my breath in. He was wearing jeans and a shirt that were absolutely filthy, as if he had been wearing them for...


He had a mustache and a full beard, wild and straggly. His cheeks and eyes were sunken, and his clothes hung on his body, too many sizes too large. He had lost so much weight. His eyes...his eyes were filled with fear and defeat. He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again.

I took a step towards him, pure impulse. He stepped back and the fear in his eyes ratcheted up a notch.

I froze. "Mulder," I said carefully. "It's me. Scully. It's all right."

He held a hand up in front of him, as if he was trying to ward me off.

It made my stomach go cold, but I kept my expression neutral as best as I could.

"Mulder. Do you recognize me?" I asked.

He looked me up and down, as if he was assessing me, my appearance.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, he nodded his head. Slightly, but he nodded.

I wanted to scream. Talk to me! Don't be afraid of me! But I remained impassive.

"All right," I said, calmly. "Can I...can I come closer?"

More endless moments of what seemed to be intense contemplation. Then he nodded again.

I took small, unthreatening steps towards him, keeping my eyes locked on his the whole time. When I was standing a few feet in front of him, I stopped. I wanted to throw my arms around him. It had been so long.

It had been so frightening. I had started to believe, even with Hope, that I was never going to see him again. And yet here he was, standing right in front of me.

He was eying me with part suspicion, and part fear. Oh, Mulder...

"Are you hurt?" I asked. "Did they hurt you physically?"

He shook his head no.

"How long have you been in the woods?" I asked. I had to ask him something he couldn't answer with just a shake of his head. Had they stolen his voice?

He shrugged.

I took a deep breath. "Mulder, can you speak? Can you talk to me?" He looked at me nervously. "Please?" I asked. My last plea caught in my throat, making it very clear how desperate and frightened I really was.

I might not have looked scared, but I was. Scared that he was damaged permanently. Scared that he was not the same man I knew before. Scared that he was going to turn and run and disappear again.

He opened his mouth. "S-S-Scully?" he stuttered.

Hearing him say my name was like a gift, and I couldn't help but smile.

"It's going to be fine, Mulder," I promised him. "Everything's going to be fine."

I called Skinner from the car and told him Mulder was with me and that we were on our way back to the motel. I also made him promise to give me some time with him – that Mulder wasn't exactly in the greatest shape emotionally. I wasn't lying. It had taken me an hour to get him into the car. The soles of my feet were fiery and sore by the time he actually got in. During the fifteen minute ride, as I spoke to Skinner, and after, Mulder was in the back seat. His lower body was crammed behind my seat on the floor, and his upper body was curled up, so that he was face down against the fabric of the back seat.

It took me another fifteen minutes to get him out of the car. Ten more to get him into the motel room. He did seem to feel some relief at being out of the car, though. I had heard him crying in the back seat after I had hung up with Skinner, and I could feel him rocking slightly, pressing the weight of his body against my seat, which in turn rocked my body in time with his. The confined space of the car seemed to bother him. Mulder had never been scared of small spaces before.

He stepped into the motel room with quick glances, his eyes all over the place. I wondered if he remembered, like I did, that this was the room he had stayed in the last time we had been here. It was before, of course, he had disappeared and before I had found out I was pregnant.

God. Hope.

I wanted desperately to call my mother. She had mourned Mulder's loss from my life just as she mourned everything else – silently and with great dignity. But she knew why I was going to Oregon. She knew I was going to get Mulder. I wanted to let her know what was going on, so that she wouldn't worry, and I wanted to know how Hope was. It was the first time I had been away from her since her birth, and I wasn't quite used to it. I didn't know at first what the aching in the pit of my stomach had been as Skinner and I flew farther and farther from DC; only realizing later that it was my sadness as the distance grew between my daughter and I.

I had to tell Mulder about Hope. I had so much to tell him. But he was still in such fragile condition – I didn't want to jeopardize that.

Didn't want to push any of his buttons.

I closed the door to the motel room behind me. "Mulder, do you think you can take a shower? We should really get you cleaned up."

He looked at me helplessly. "I...I...I don't remember..." he said softly.

"It's all right," I said. I came to him and put my hand on his shoulder, gently, looking into his eyes to make sure the contact was all right. He didn't make any move to push me away. I took it as a good sign.

I hadn't touched him in almost a year, and as my hand rested on his shoulder lightly, I realized how much I had missed him. I had always known, of course, but I didn't realize how much I missed the physicality of him until that moment.

"I'll help you," I said, and we went slowly into the bathroom.

I turned the water on, testing the temperature until it was right. Then I looked at him.

"Do you want me to help you get undressed, or..."

He shook his head, almost violently. Then as quickly as the storm in his eyes had come, it passed. He slowly started to pull his shirt over his head. Seeing each other's bodies was nothing new to us, but feeling strangely shy, I turned around and shed my own clothes. When I turned back to face him, I saw that Mulder had left his clothes in a pile on the floor. He was nude, his head bowed, his eyes closed. His ribs were visible, poking out at his skin. His body was covered in bruises – some fresh and purple, some older and yellow-green. There were scratches too, and marks that looked like surgical scars on his chest, arms and legs. I tried not to shudder.

"Let's get you in there, then," I said, and he looked up. He didn't look at my body. Didn't even blink.

We stepped into the shower and I put him under the spray of the water.

He closed his eyes, letting the steady stream pour over his body. I got the soap and a washcloth and began to gently clean his skin, carefully avoiding the scars. Since I was closer to him, I could see them more clearly. The lines were clean, not jagged, and the scars were pink – healed, but still recent.

He kept his eyes closed as I washed him. Dirt and grime came off and went down the drain in inky black swirls. Just when I thought I had gotten one layer clean, there was another layer underneath. So much dirt. So much grime.

I steered clear of the nest of dark hair at his groin. Knew it wasn't the right time to go there.

"Mulder?" I said. "Why don't you turn around and I'll wash your hair."

He obediently turned, and shocked, I put a fist to my mouth when I saw his back.

His spine was just like his ribs – hard, bony knots just below the skin. There were raw, red welts running from his shoulders all the way to the dip in his back just above his buttocks. I tried to hold back the sudden hot tears that were burning my eyes.

I cleared my throat. "Tip your head back," I managed to say.

He did. It was hard to reach even with his head back – I was still too short. But I could reach. I squeezed some of the shampoo from the tiny bottle the motel left and lathered his hair, then instructed him to turn around so we could rinse it.

Mulder startled me then; he reached a hand out to me and skimmed his fingertips across my chest, between my breasts.

"I...I lost it, Scully." His voice was childlike and frightened.

It took me a moment to understand what he was talking about. Then, looking at his own neck, I realized it – the cross. It was gone.

Impulsively, I reached out and touched his cheek, intending to comfort him. "It's all right, Mulder, it's-"

He knocked my hand away, violently, and pushed me back. I thought fast and braced my arms against the shower walls; if I hadn't, I could have very likely fallen and possibly gotten hurt. I was stunned by his reaction, but even more stunned when I looked up to see that his face was completely impassive. As if it hadn't even happened.

I was shaken. Mulder and I had been many things to each other over the years. We had argued plenty. We had raised our voices and we had shared silences that were even more deadly. But we had never, ever gotten physically violent with each other. Never.

There was the time that I shot him, but that was to save him. We had never intentionally hurt someone. When I had shot Mulder, I agonized over it. I had nightmares about it. I shot Mulder over and over in my dreams at night for months.

But in the cramped shower that afternoon, I was scared. I had given more than my heart and my body to Mulder. I had given him my soul. We had created a child somehow, a miracle child. A child he didn't even know about yet. For a moment, I thought that I didn't know him at all.

Mulder looked at me, his eyes clouded and suddenly confused.

He looked at me, raking his eyes over my body suddenly, as if he had just realized that I wasn't wearing any clothes. I felt myself blushing as he took in my breasts, and then lower.

"You've changed," he said.

I straightened up. My hands went back to my sides. I waited.

Mulder put his hand out again. This time I didn't move.

He started at my neck again, and moved one finger slowly between my breasts, lower, until he reached my belly. He stopped. His whole hand splayed flat against me there.

"You were pregnant," he said simply.

Shock rippled over my face. I felt, suddenly, that the water had gone cold.

"Let's get out of the shower," I managed to say, but Mulder cut me off.

"Who is the baby's father?" he asked me, with that same flat tone.

I stared at him in shock. How could he even ask me something like that? The cold water was rapidly taking effect; my teeth were already starting to chatter.

We stared at each other for a long time. Minutes passed. Then, finally, I pulled the curtain back and got out of the shower, leaving Mulder there alone.

I sat on the bed, having changed into sweats and a worn t-shirt. My hair was still damp. I heard the shower run for another seven or eight minutes before it shut off, and Mulder appeared in the door that divided the bathroom and the rest of the room.

I looked up at him. I still wasn't used to the idea of Mulder not being clean shaven. It made him look even more like someone I didn't recognize.

His eyes were more alive, though – more focused than they had been since I had found him out in the woods. He had a towel wrapped around his waist.

"Jesus, Scully, you look like you saw a ghost."

The tone – the look in his eyes. It was Mulder.

"Mulder?" I asked, my voice breaking. I didn't know what to say, what to think. My head was spinning.

"Scully..." he said "Scully, what happened? How did I get here?"

He was dead serious.

I couldn't help it. I started to cry.

According to the doctor who we saw as soon as we stepped off the plane in DC, Mulder was fine. He was, of course, malnourished and underweight. But he was not dehydrated. The scars were, according to the doctor, unexplainable. She performed ultrasounds and CT scans and x-rays and I looked at the films myself – there was nothing missing, no organs removed, and nothing implanted.

The welts on Mulder's back were, the doctor estimated, anywhere from two weeks to two days old. They were layered. Some had healed. Some had now. I hadn't noticed that in the shower. None of them were infected, the doctor told us.

The doctor could find no reason for Mulder's strange emotional behavior when I had first found him. I told the doctor that he had been extraordinarily frightened, claustrophobic, and had an extremely flat affect. I left out the part about him shoving me in the shower. I didn't feel like sharing that yet, mostly because I wasn't yet ready to think about it.

Mulder listened patiently as I told the doctor how he had been behaving, and every time I glanced over at him, he seemed alternately perplexed, confused, and worried. He either genuinely didn't remember anything up until he got out of the shower, or he was giving the performance of a lifetime.

The doctor had no solid answers for us. She said that sometimes difficult events were just that – difficult. There was likely to be a degree of post-traumatic stress that would affect Mulder. We had told her that he had been held captive by fugitives – didn't want to get into where he really was – as an explanation as to his injuries. She told us that if Mulder needed any follow-up care, or if his emotional symptoms returned, that we should feel free to call her.

Skinner was in the waiting room, carelessly flipping through a magazine when we came out. He set it down in a hurry when he saw us and crossed the room.

"Anything?" he asked, and I shook my head. Skinner appraised Mulder.

He had been doing that since he had met us at the motel before our flight home. "How do you feel, Mulder?" he asked, and Mulder shrugged.

"Tired," he answered. "I have a lot of unanswered questions."

So do I, I thought to myself.

We were in the car when Skinner spoke up. He was in the front seat with Mulder, and I was in the back, staring at the back of Mulder's head.

Skinner, of course, knew that Mulder and I were sleeping together – it was pretty clear when I told him I was pregnant. If there had been any doubt in his mind, once Hope was born it would have been erased.

Hope had her father's eyes. The exact shape and color.

"Should I drop you at your mother's?" Skinner asked me, over his shoulder.

Mulder turned around. "Why your mother's?"

Shit. I could feel tension creeping up my neck, tightening my muscles.

The silence was palpable. Skinner must have realized that I hadn't told him about Hope yet. A part of me wanted to laugh bitterly at the irony. Mulder had already known I was pregnant. At least, when he was in the middle of acting like a complete and total stranger he knew...but now, it was as if we had never had the conversation at all.

"Yes," I said to Skinner. "My mother's. That's fine."

"Scully?" Mulder questioned me, turning around slightly in his seat.

"Why are we going to your mother's?"

I looked out the window. I didn't feel that a moving car was the best place to tell Mulder about his daughter.

"I have to pick something up," I finally said.

The answer seemed to satisfy Mulder, and he turned back around.

As I watched the scenery blur, my thoughts wandered. I couldn't help but think of what a terrible situation it all was. I had envisioned Mulder's return to be so different. I had imagined, foolishly, that he would show up on my doorstep one day, and I would lead him in, healthy and whole, and bring him into the room where Hope was sleeping, and bring him to the side of the crib and take in the expression of shock and wondrous joy on his face as he realized that it was our child sleeping peacefully there, the miracle baby that I thought I would never have.

As we got closer and closer to my mother's house, I felt my dread growing. When we got there, I was going to have to tell Mulder about Hope. And I had a feeling that it wouldn't be an easy situation.

We pulled up in my mother's driveway. "I'll stay in the car," Skinner said.

"Why don't you come in with me?" I said to Mulder. "I know my mother will be overjoyed to see you."

It wasn't completely a lie. I knew my mother had been in agony over Mulder's disappearance just as well as I had. She loved him. It was simple like that with her.

But I didn't want to just go in and bring Hope out – have Mulder get his first look at his daughter while he sat in the car. I didn't want to do that.

Mulder came with me and I rang the bell. There was no answer. I knocked.

As I did, the door swung open slowly.

A feeling of dread settled on me like heavy dust. My mother never left the door open.

I looked up at Mulder. He looked confused. "The door, Scully," he pointed.

The frame was cracked near the lock. Someone had kicked the door in.

Oh God.

I hurried inside, Mulder at my heels.

"Mom?" I called anxiously. Although it had been sunny outside, the house was dim once I was inside. Dim and still. "Mom?" I called again.

No answer.

I hurried upstairs to the spare room, where my mother had set up a crib for Hope. I sprinted across the room. The crib was empty. The blankets were tousled, as if someone had grabbed Hope from her sleep in a hurry. Something had happened. Something bad had happened.

"Oh my God," I moaned.

Mulder entered the room behind me. "Scully, I-"

I turned around and he froze up. I watched him take in the room, the crib, the décor – all of which screamed "baby." He looked at me.

"She's gone," I said brokenly. "She's gone."

Mulder was confused. I could tell. "Maybe your mother just-"

"Not just my mother, Mulder," I said.

He looked at me. Waited.

"Hope," I said. "The baby."

It sounded so cold, the way I said "the baby," as if she didn't belong to anyone. She did belong to someone. She belonged to me. She belonged to Mulder and I.

"Who's Hope?" Mulder asked.

"She's-" my breath caught in my throat. "She's our daughter, Mulder.

Our baby."

His face went slack. "Our what?" he asked.

I didn't repeat myself. I knew he heard me.

"Scully, are you sure you know what you're-"

"God damn it, Mulder!" I exploded. Fear and frustration burst free. "I found out I was pregnant right when you went missing. I was sick before you left – don't you remember? I wasn't sick – I was pregnant. I had a baby. Our baby. And she's gone."

"Pregnant..." Mulder uttered, barely above a whisper. "Scully, you can't -"

"Believe me, Mulder, I know. I know! I thought of that. Over and over. But the fact remained – I was pregnant. You and I – we-"

I sobbed. I put my hands over my face and sobbed for long moments.

Then I realized I had to move. I had to find Hope. I had to find my mother. I had to –

Mulder was looking at me oddly. It was as if his eyes were disconnected from the rest of him.

"Mulder?" I asked, wiping my eyes.

"You were never meant to have that baby," he said, flatly. "She's dead, you know."

"Oh my God," I whispered. And then, blissfully, darkness came and overwhelmed me and I fell.

When I opened my eyes, I was on the couch downstairs in my mother's living room. Skinner was there, and Mulder was hovering close, his eyes filled with concern. "Scully?" he asked. "It's all right. You fainted."

Bits and pieces came back to me and I looked at him, terrified.

"Who are you?" I asked, haunted.

"Scully, it's me. Mulder. Don't you know-"

"I know who you are," I said. "I just don't know you. I don't know you anymore. You're not the man I knew."

Skinner came over and touched my hand. "Agent Scully," he said. "Calm down."

I sat up. "Something is wrong with him," I told Skinner. "I told him...I told him about Hope, and he said..." I trailed off, not able to repeat it. I couldn't say it. Saying it was like making it true, and I didn't want to believe that it was. "He said horrible things," I finally whispered.

Mulder looked at me. "Scully, Skinner told me...he told me about the baby." His voice was husky and his eyes filled with tears. "Why didn't you tell me sooner? Why didn't you tell me in Oregon, when you found me?"

He didn't remember. Or he was pretending not to remember. This is all a bad dream, I told myself, and when I wake up, Mulder will be here, and Hope will be here, and my mother will be here, and Mulder will be Mulder again...

"Scully," Mulder implored. "Please. I still can't even...it's unbelievable that you were able to get pregnant. I thought – we both thought – I mean..."

I nodded, bit my lip. I had thought it, of course. I had known it, lived it. Lived with the knowledge that I wasn't ever going to bear a child. I could still remember my disbelief when the doctors told me that I was pregnant.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Skinner heading towards the kitchen, to give us some time to talk.

"Scully," Mulder said. "I know I'm not clear on a lot of things right now. There's a lot of foggy areas. But I do remember how things were when I...before I disappeared. I remember that part, Scully, very well."

I remembered too, of course. I remembered making love with Mulder until I thought my heart was about to burst from beating so fast. I remembered him teasing me to the point where I thought I had never felt arousal like that before, never that strong, never that overwhelming. I remembered the orgasms that I thought were going to kill me – how Mulder wouldn't just stop after one, how he liked to watch me come a second time without even giving me a moment to catch my breath in between. I remembered that it wasn't just sex between us – for years it had been everything but that, and I remembered that before he disappeared, we were still new to each other sexually, still learning, still experimenting.

Skinner came back into the living room, sliding his cell phone into his pocket. "I've put out an APB on your mother and on Hope," he said to me. "It's late, though. I think we're going to have to wait till tomorrow before we can get a jump on anything. We have to let the investigators go through the house. I've already called them."

I nodded gratefully to him.

I looked back at Mulder. He wasn't completely back. Only one part of him was back. There was another side of him, a side I didn't know or understand, a side I was afraid of. But there was something I couldn't deny. The part of him that loved me was back.

"I want to go home," I told that part of him, and he nodded.

Skinner drove us back to my apartment, and promised me he would call in the morning. First thing. The determination in his eyes told me that he would be at the office late that night, making phone calls and getting started. He had thought he'd lost Mulder in the woods – he wasn't going to fail me again. I squeezed his arm to tell him how much I appreciated him, and he ducked his head and nodded slightly.

Mulder and I went upstairs and he walked through the apartment, gazing at everything, lightly trailing his hand over furniture as he went.

"The extra room?" he asked me. "That's her room, right?"

I nodded. Exhaustion had crept into my bones and I dropped my jacket onto the edge of the couch, dropping my body next to it a moment later.

My eyes felt heavy and dry; my limbs felt as if they had been weighted down in preparation for sinking.

"Do you mind if I..."

I shook my head. "Mulder, there's a picture – a picture of her on the nightstand in my room."

His eyes lit up, and he headed in there first, returning with the small framed photo I kept by my bed. He stared and stared, finally touching the little face under the glass with the tip of his finger.

"Jesus, Scully, she's beautiful," he said quietly, in awe. "So small.

And...she's ours."

I didn't answer. Mulder was getting his first look at our child, reveling in her just as I had when she was born, but I could barely breathe. She was missing. My heart felt fractured. My breasts ached from not being able to nurse her. I had to pump, and I didn't want to do it, not with Mulder there. Even with his breathing, and my own, the house seemed deadly quiet without the noises that she usually made.

Mulder took the picture and went silently in the direction of Hope's room. He didn't come out.

After about ten minutes, I followed him in there, weary and feeling alone and afraid.

I found him standing over the crib, toying with the pastel stars hanging from the mobile Skinner had given me. The small lamp on the changing table was on, lighting only that small corner of the room and making the stars on the walls nearby look coldly metallic instead of delicately silver. It had grown dark outside, and the room, which normally felt warm and full of life, felt cold and hollow.

Mulder turned around and stood, watching me stand there, my arms at my sides, defeated, frightened, tired. He came to me and I let him hold me. Being there felt good. Strong. Safe. For a moment, I was able to forget.

I pulled away first. "Mulder, I-"

He stopped me with a gentle kiss. His lips sought mine and held, letting me taste him again, the warm wetness of his mouth. It was as if the months apart had never happened; the kiss went from gentle to more than that in moments. He pulled me closer, his hands in my hair, almost roughly. He peppered kisses along my brow, on my nose, over my eyes.

"I need you, Scully," he murmured against my mouth, and I realized that I needed him too. I always had. Even with Hope, he had still been missing, and I had not been complete without him. I had always needed him. Wanted him.

When we had first made love, it had been a while, for both of us. Now it was like that again, that urgency coupled with nervous excitement.

We hadn't touched in almost a year, and we sank to the floor. I opened my eyes as Mulder straddled my body and leaned over me, unbuttoning my shirt and burying his face between my breasts.

I looked up and saw the walls of the room. The silver stars I had painted for Hope, the glow of the tiny lamp in the corner of the room.

Mulder was impatient; he pulled the cups of my bra down, releasing my breasts, and he leaned down and put his mouth over my nipple. His beard scratched like sandpaper against my over-sensitive skin.

A familiar feeling washed over me, and arousal flooded me. It was as if he had never been gone.

"Scully, oh God, Scully," Mulder moaned, and I looked at him. He looked at me. "You're nursing," he said, and I nodded. He went back to my breast, suckling me gently, and I could feel the milk, could smell its sweetness as he drank. He switched sides and I felt the aching in my breasts ease away and down to my core. I clutched at his head, lacing my fingers through his hair.

My vision blurred and my mind felt as if it was crumbling into itself.

I was aware of him stripping his clothes off, helping me out of mine.

My fingers didn't want to let go of him. I feared that if I stopped touching him, he would vanish in front of my eyes, leaving me grasping at air.

I called out when he entered me. Long and hard and hot. There was a moment when I startled, thinking that he could get me pregnant again – but then it passed and I stopped thinking about anything rational except the feeling of him inside me.

The carpet rubbed into my back as he stroked inside me. I reached for his arm, my fingers rubbing over the silky lines of the scars there. He lifted my legs higher and I scooted closer, allowing him deeper access.

My body was like little shooting stars, all of them converging in one place, right where we were joined. I was aware of my own voice, calling out, whimpering, wanting more of him when there was nowhere else for him to go. I wanted him deeper but he possibly get any further into me than he already was.

He sped up his movements, my body meeting his, and I dug my fingertips into his arm. "Faster, Mulder," I moaned. "Harder."

He looked at me, almost afraid to respond.

"I – I can't," he gasped. "I don't want to hurt you, Scully."

"Hurt me," I responded, near tears. "Make it hurt, Mulder."

And then he lifted my legs, and he was slamming into me, and I was crying out, and crying, my body and my emotions merging into one huge ball of feeling. I could feel him coming, moaning, and when I felt it, I wanted to come with him, wanted to feel that release with him, and I knew in that moment that it couldn't happen. I couldn't.

Mulder slowed his movements and looked down at me, peering into my soul. "Scully?" he asked, his breathing still erratic.

"No, it's all right," I started to say, but he pulled out of me and crawled to my side, turning my body so that I was pressed up against him. "I don't need-"

His hand was between my legs then, two long fingers slipping into me, through the wetness, and the heel of his hand bumping and grinding against my clit, and I felt the arousal coming back when it hadn't even left in the first place. I came sharply and suddenly, arching up into his hand, with his eyes boring deep into mine. I was still gasping for breath when I began to sob. Mulder took his hand away and pulled me to him, pressing his lips against my forehead.

"I can't..." I cried, my voice hitching.

"Shhh," Mulder murmured, his breath blowing over my face warmly.

"Shhh. We're going to find her."

He scooped me up before I could protest and carried me into the bedroom, setting me down on the bed. He pulled the covers down and I burrowed beneath them, curling my body into a fetal position, just as Hope had been inside me for nine months. Mulder climbed into bed and slid close to me, right up against my back, just as he had that last night in Oregon before he had disappeared. I had been sick already. I hadn't known I was pregnant. But we had made love anyhow that night, at my insistence, quickly, with no words. It had been the last night we had made love, the last time before he had vanished.

I fell asleep feeling Mulder's arms around me, his hand resting on my belly.

I dreamed.

In my dream, I was in the Oregon woods, searching. Mulder and I were searching. "Hope!" I was calling, looking, my eyes sharply attuned to every movement in the bushes and trees, every sound.

"Scully!" Mulder called out, his voice twisted with agony. "Scully!"

I ran to his side and it took hours. Days. When I finally reached him, he was kneeling down in the dirt, at the edge of a circle marked with little white stones. There was a fern in the middle of the circle. I crouched down and lifted the frothy leaves and there was Hope, her little body blue and black and purple. I touched her skin and it was cold, cold as ice. I turned my head to the right and saw my mother, her body battered and broken, tossed and discarded like yesterday's trash, off to the side of the circle.

I screamed and screamed and screamed.

"Scully!" Mulder's voice was right in my ear. "Scully, wake up."

I jerked in his arms. "Hope," I cried. "My mother. They're dead."

He held me in his arms. "It's all right. We're going to find them.

They're not dead," he reassured me. But I couldn't be comforted. I cried softly, my head buried in his shoulder, my tears watering the scar from the bullet hole where I had shot him years before.

"Mulder, I just...I dreamed that..." I said, lifting my head, and saw it.

His eyes were dark. The pupils were fully dilated, even though the lamp by the bed was on just behind him.

"Mulder?" I asked, my voice catching.

He let go of me, his arms falling from my body as if I were on fire and he was afraid of burning up.

He pushed himself out of bed, turning his back to me, heading into Hope's room. He returned wearing his jeans but bare-chested. I was clutching the sheets around myself protectively, tears still wet on my cheeks.

"I have to go," he told me.

"Where are you going?" I asked. "Mulder?" I was scared. He was back in one of his trance-states. What was he going to say? What was he going to do?

"Don't worry about me."

His voice was flat. His words were almost rehearsed. I swallowed a sob – don't worry about him? I had spent the last year – no, make that the last eight years – worrying about him.

"Pick out something for them to wear," he told me dispassionately. I sat up in bed fully.

"What?" I asked incredulously.

"You'll want to bury them in something nice."

Something inside my heart snapped. Blindly, I reached for the bedside lamp and yanked the plug free from the outlet. The room went pitch black. I hurled the lamp in Mulder's direction, and was rewarded by a heavy thump and the sound of pottery breaking.

I pulled myself out of bed on shaking feet and turned the overhead light on. Mulder was standing there, in a puddle of broken lamp, his shoulder bleeding from where one of the pieces must have cut him. Although I was agitated, I dimly realized that the cut was just below where I had shot him years earlier.

He didn't move. His face betrayed absolutely no emotion. No shock, no anger, no pain. Nothing. He simply stared at me, my naked body, with no flicker of life in his eyes.

The way he looked at me terrified me. I yanked my robe from the back of the bedroom door and pulled it on, almost afraid to turn my back on him. He still hadn't moved.

"Get out," I said, my voice low and feral.

He didn't move a muscle.

"Get out!" I screamed. My raised voice didn't do anything. He didn't even flinch. I crossed the room quickly, shoving him, causing him to stumble backwards, but his expression still didn't change. "I said get the fuck out of here, Mulder! Are you listening to me?"

Terror and violent anger coursed through me in equal parts. This wasn't the man who had been inside my body in the room across the hall just a few hours before. This wasn't Mulder. He had Mulder's face, Mulder's body. But he didn't have Mulder's eyes. He didn't have Mulder's posture. He didn't have Mulder's heart.

I felt something breaking inside me. "Please," I pleaded, my voice raw. "Please, get out, Mulder. Just go."

He smiled, slightly. Then he turned and left.

I stood there, stunned, Something sharp was piercing the sole of my foot and I winced. I moved slowly back to the bed and sat down, checking. A piece of the lamp jutted out of my flesh. I pulled it out with trembling fingers and blood trickled out, sliding across the sole of my foot and dripping onto the floor.

I dropped the shard, hearing it clatter to the floor moments after the fact. I could hear Mulder's footsteps, in Hope's room, gathering the rest of his clothes, I assumed, and then in the living room. I heard the front door open, then close.

I slept fitfully for an hour or so, waking with the sun. I sat up in bed and the previous night's events came back to me.


Something was very wrong with Mulder.

I brushed it aside. I couldn't – wouldn't deal with that yet. I had to find my mother and my daughter.

I showered, letting the water wash away the evidence of the previous night's sex with Mulder, remembering a time when I hated doing just that. I dressed quickly in my bedroom, put on the minimal amount of makeup, brushed out my hair. The cut on my foot was still sore. It was small but deep. I didn't have time for stitches. Antibiotic ointment and a bandaid would have to do.

I stared at the broken lamp on the floor and felt a strange paralysis.

I didn't know how to go about cleaning it up, how to pick up the pieces. The pieces were scattered about; broken pottery from the lamp itself, glass from the bulb, the cord weaving on the floor like a snake, the wire frame gleaming golden brass.

I left it there.

At the office, Skinner looked haggard.

"No sign of fingerprints at your mother's house," he told me. "Whoever did it didn't want to leave any traces of anything behind. There was a sign of a struggle in the living room. Pictures knocked off the mantle, other items overturned. Whoever took her, it was with a struggle."

I absorbed this numbly, trying to distance myself from it, but not succeeding. My mother was a slight woman. Stubborn, and capable of great anger – but still slight and not physically strong. She may have struggled, but someone would have been able to overpower her.

Hope, I knew, had gone without a struggle. She was an infant still, so small. I could imagine her sleeping peacefully, being awakened by the sound of crashing in the other room. She probably awoke, crying for me, crying for her grandmother, and then was scooped into someone's waiting arms and carried out of the house.

I wondered idly if whoever took her had a car seat for her. If they were taking an safety measures for her at all.

"The neighbors remember seeing your mother yesterday morning, out on the porch swing with Hope," Skinner went on. "Which means they were taken sometime that day, before we arrived there. So far, no one has claimed responsibility-"

"No one will," I interrupted him, my voice bitter.

He looked up at me, startled.

"Where's Mulder?" he asked.

I shrugged.

"Agent Scully," Skinner said, taking his glasses off. "What happened?"

I looked at him, looked at his wrinkled brow, the shine on the top of his bald head. His hands were on his desk, his palms flat against the blotter.

"Something is wrong with Mulder," I said.

"What do you mean?"

I wasn't going to cry. I felt like I had no tears left.

"He hasn't been acting like himself. In the motel in Oregon. At my mother's house. At my apartment, after-" I stopped.

"After what?" Skinner asked, then saw the look on my face. He didn't repeat the question. "You have no idea where he is?"

The phone rang, and he sighed heavily at the interruption.

I zoned out as Skinner talked. Remembered making love with Mulder the night before. I could still feel Mulder, hot and sweaty, and later, holding me. I could still hear the glass shattering.

Skinner hung up the phone.

"Scully," he said, his voice flat, almost like Mulder's, and for a moment I was scared. It was the first time I could remember him calling me anything other than 'Agent Scully', and it meant something.

"They've found them," I said.

Skinner shook his head. "Only your mother."

"Where is she? Which hospital?"

It was a stupid question, because I knew the answer before he gave it.

"Dana," he said gently. "She's dead."

At first, I was stoic. Made the calls I needed to make. Bill was away and I talked to Tara, who sobbed into the phone as I held the receiver tight, pressing it into my ear. Tara had always loved my mother. Her own mother had died when she was young, and my mother was a surrogate for her. She promised to have Bill call me as soon as she could reach him. She cried harder when I told her that Hope was still missing.

Charlie was stunned and didn't say much. He asked about Hope. I told him I didn't know. He asked me if I was all right. I told him I didn't know.

Skinner hovered while I made my calls. He told me he would take me to the morgue, so I could see her, if I wanted to. I sat, numb in his car, as we drove. He had to guide me into the building, down the hall. I could walk a straight line, but it was as if I had forgotten how to turn corners.

My mother was resting on a metal table, a sheet pulled up to her neck.

Her face was relaxed, which belied the bruises and cuts. She was a shell. Nothing more than a shell.

Something in my mother died with my father, even though they had gone through some rough patches. She never talked about it, and before his death, neither did he. I knew, though. I knew all of her complaints.

She hated moving around so much. She hated him being gone so often and for so long. They fought about it when I was young. I remembered.

Missy and I in our room, late at night. Missy could sleep through anything. I had to press my hands over my ears to block out their raised voices.

I asked her once when I was young if her fighting with him meant that she didn't love him anymore. If it meant they were going to divorce.

Parents were doing that. Splitting up. Three kids in my school were sullen, angry, withdrawn. I was a little girl, still naïve. I wondered if I would be that way too, once they divorced.

My mother put her arms around me and hugged me. "Your father and I are not getting divorced," she said. "We don't stop loving each other when we fight."

"Then why do you fight?" I asked, with a child's innocence.

"We fight because we love each other," she answered me simply, and I was left to ponder that.

As I got older I learned that every couple goes through rough patches.

My parents had an easy rapport with each other. They loved each other.

He still brought her flowers for no reason. They communicated without words, instead using a glance, a slight movement of the eyes, a gesture. I caught it once, years ago. It was just before my father died, at my apartment right after Christmas. He had been silent about the FBI, and I knew he disapproved. Just as they were leaving, I saw my mother look at him, saying something I didn't understand.

"How's work? Good?" he asked, and I realized that was what she had been trying to tell him to ask.

I was grateful – to her, that she had wanted him to ask, and to him, because he did ask.

Now they were both gone.

I didn't want to think. Skinner dropped me off at home, hesitant about leaving me alone. "If you need anything-" he said, as I was getting out of the car.

I nodded, and went inside. Kicked off my shoes.

My breasts were full again, aching. I knew I should pump, but the thought of it made me scared to face what I wasn't facing. Why bother pumping and storing the milk in the freezer when Hope was...

I didn't want to think it. So I pumped, and put the milk in the freezer, not looking at the ever-growing collection of milk, the nourishment that my body was still creating for my child.

When I went into the bedroom, the lamp was gone. Cleaned up. At first I panicked, wondering who had been in the apartment, but then I saw the note on the made bed.

"Tried calling your cel but there was no answer, and Skinner wasn't at the office. What's going on? Where are you? What happened to the lamp? Call me, please, I don't care how late it is. I'm worried about you."

There was no signature. There didn't need to be. I recognized the handwriting.

I didn't call. What I wanted was a hot bath, but what I ended up doing was curling up on my bed, fully dressed, and falling asleep.

I dreamed, not surprisingly, of my mother.

In my dream, I was coming from her funeral, when I met up with her at the cemetery. I didn't feel surprised to see her. She was wearing her wedding dress – I recognized it from pictures that had dotted the mantles of our various houses for as long as I could remember. The dress was simple. My mother looked odd in it, her middle aged body in her 1960s dress. She spoke to me, calmly, her hands clasped in front of her, as if she was holding an imaginary bouquet.

"Don't give up hope, Dana," she said.

I stared at her.

"I have no hope," I confessed to her.

She shook her head. "You do. Just because she's not there doesn't mean she's gone."

I woke up, recalling the clarity of her words and hearing them echo in my ears as if she had been in the room with me.

By the time the funeral came, two days later, there were still no leads on Hope and I still hadn't called Mulder. Skinner mentioned his name once, but when he saw the look in my eyes, he changed the subject.

At the cemetery, I was in my own world even though my brothers were crowded close to me, one on either side. I could barely restrain myself from pushing them away.

"We need to stick together now," Bill murmured to me at one point as the priest was talking. I almost scoffed aloud. He had said the same thing when my father had died, and within months he had moved out West, thousands of miles away.

I saw movement out of the corner of my eye towards the end of the priest's litany of words. I half expected it to be my mother in her wedding dress, but it was Mulder. I turned my head halfway to watch him approach. He was walking wounded and it showed. As he got closer, I could see his face more clearly – his eyes were puffy from crying. In one hand he carried a bouquet of white roses. The other hand dangled loosely at his side, but I could see the fist clenched.

He looked up. Caught my eye. Noticed how close Bill and Charlie were to me, and wisely stood on the other side of the grave, never taking his eyes off me.

I idly wondered how he had found out. Skinner, most likely.

Skinner had put in his appearance as well, standing off to the side, looking pained. I didn't think he noticed Mulder's arrival, but then again, not much got past Skinner.

The priest finished up and people began to drift away. Bill and Charlie started to go back to the car, but Bill turned when he realized I was still standing there.

"Dana?" he asked, and then he saw Mulder standing on the opposite side of the grave. His face tightened.

"I need a few minutes," I said to Bill, who obviously didn't approve, but nevertheless, he touched my arm and left.

Mulder and I stood, my mother's grave separating us, until we were the only ones still there. He then stepped forward and put the roses on the coffin.

"They're lovely," I said to him, and he nodded, looking miserable.

It hit me then; we were alike yet again – motherless and fatherless, the two of us. Mulder's parents had both been victims in a larger game, and I had always secretly felt grateful that my father's death had been of natural causes. I thought I had understood how Mulder felt after Melissa's death, but I didn't. Now, I did - my mother had been murdered, and there would be no justice.

Mulder's voice cut through the silence. "You didn't call me," he said.

"Why didn't you call?"

I shrugged. It hurt to think.

"I loved your mother," Mulder said. "You should have called me, Scully. I had to get the news from Skinner. I've been trying to reach you for days."

If he had called, I didn't know it. The phone had started ringing. My mother's friends, so many sympathetic voices. I couldn't handle it. I had finally shut the ringer off, unplugged the answering machine, and turned off my cell phone. I wanted to be unreachable because it matched how I felt.

"I didn't know how you would react," I told him.

"What do you mean?" Mulder asked. "How do you think I'd react when I found out that your mother's body was found? I was devastated. I assumed the worst about Hope, that she was-"

I held up a finger to silence him. "Don't say that. Don't even say it."

"Scully, what the hell is going on? You're acting like I'm some kind of monster that you can't bear to be around," I started to walk away. I didn't want to talk about it with a coffin in between us. He followed me.

"What's the last thing you remember of us being together?" I asked him, stopping at a small stone bench with an angel standing guard nearby.

He didn't hesitate. "Making love with you in Hope's room."

"How did you get home?" I asked him.

His eyes clouded a little, as if he wasn't quite sure. "I drove. I drove home."

"How did you cut your shoulder?" I asked, pressing my fingers hard into his shoulder, taking a moment of guilty pleasure when I saw him flinch slightly.

"I don't know – Jesus, Scully, what's with the interrogation? What the hell is going on?"

"Mulder, you've been acting – well, you haven't been yourself," I said.

"You've hurt me." I didn't know how else to explain it. My numbness from the funeral was starting to wear off and I could feel my emotions bubbling just under the surface.

"I hurt you?" he asked, confused. "Did you – did you do this?" he asked, gesturing at his shoulder.

I nodded. "You provoked me," I told him.

"How?" he wanted to know.

It all rushed at me like an open wound; the things he had said since I had found him. "You've been acting this way since Oregon, since I found you. In the shower, you pushed me. You told me you knew I was pregnant. You asked me who the father was. You-"

"What?" Mulder asked, incredulous. "Scully, I didn't even know-"

"You told me my mother and Hope were dead, when we were at my mother's house," I went on. "After we made love, you told me to pick out something nice for them to wear. To bury them in."

"Oh God," Mulder whispered, his face going white. "I..."

I sank down on the bench, feeling the cold of the concrete through my clothes.

"Scully," Mulder said, looking at me as if his whole world had fallen apart. "I don't remember any of this. None of it. I swear to you."

The look on his face – so frightened, so unguarded – made me feel sorry for him. Almost. I had done that once already and it had gotten me nowhere.

"I can't be near you right now, Mulder," I said.

He looked stricken.

"I need some time. Away from you. Away from the personality swings."

He changed the subject. "She's my daughter too, Scully," he reminded me.

It was ironic that he mentioned it, actually. I had spent all those months with Hope in my belly, with Mulder gone, and although I knew she was something he and I had created together, I caught myself saying "my child" and "my baby" on a regular basis. The more time Mulder was gone, the more I thought he wasn't coming back. I'd had nothing to hold on to – except the impending birth of my child. And in those months, although I knew she was ours, she had become mine. Mine to love. Mine to look after. Mine to protect.

"I know that," I said.

"I don't know her at all," Mulder said to me, his voice low. "You think she's more yours because you know her."

I shook my head, but inside I knew part of me believed it was true.

"I want you to know her, Mulder."

It was ludicrous. We were talking about her as if she was at home, or at my mother's, just waiting for us to pick her up...

I took a breath. Then I spoke.

"I don't trust you right now."

Mulder swayed slightly. "Scully-"

Tears pricked at my eyes. "I don't trust you right now. I can't. Not while you're...so unpredictable. I need to find Hope, Mulder. I have to."

"Let me help you," he pleaded. "She's my daughter."

"You're sick, Mulder," I told him. "You need help. To get back to who you were before. I don't know how, but you have to."

"What are you going to do?" he asked.

"I'm going to find Hope."

I got up, started to walk away. My feet were heavy. I turned back around. "I love you, Mulder. Please don't think I don't. Please understand."

Tears formed in his eyes and fell over his cheeks, but he didn't make a move to wipe them away. Didn't speak.

"I love you, too," he finally murmured. "Remember that, no matter what I've said or done. Please. Promise me."

I nodded, weary, and left him there.

I left the cemetery and drove. There was no real destination. I rolled down the window and let the cold air rush against my face, blowing my hair wildly. By the time I made it home, it was dark. I let myself in and took off my coat, my shoes. Turning on the lights on in the living room, I headed into the kitchen. I needed a pot of coffee.

"You look like hell," a voice said, calmly. I startled, and turned.

Alex Krycek, sitting on my couch.

"What the hell are you doing in my apartment?" I asked. My temper flared immediately. I had no patience for him, not now, not ever, for that matter.

"Good to see you too, Scully."

I went over to the couch and grabbed his arm. It was his prosthetic – hard and foreign under my fingers. I yanked him off the couch with strength I didn't know I had.

"Get the hell out of here," I hissed. "You-"

"Heard you were looking for your daughter."

I froze.

"That's better," he said, pulling his arm free, and sitting back down.

"So what do you say we have a little chat, just you and me?"

I stood.

"Talk fast," I told him. "If you have something useful, say it. If not, I want you out of here. I just got home from-"

He cut me off again. "Your mother's funeral. I know. So sorry to hear about that," he said, with no sympathy in his voice. "There was no other way around it, I'm afraid. She had to die."

I tried to breathe but the air in my lungs felt trapped.

"Think about it. Why did you leave your daughter with her? You wouldn't have trusted anyone else, right? Which was smart. Good old Mrs. Scully – what is her first name, anyhow?"

I didn't answer. "Did you kill her?"

He shook his head, and went on. "You should have heard her. 'You can't take that baby out of my house. You'll have to do it over my dead body.' So," he shrugged. "She had to be taken too. Just so they could get the baby out of the house. Once they had them both out of the house, of course, your mother was of no further use. She put up a good fight, though, from what I was told."

My stomach rolled.

She was tossed aside, I thought. Just like garbage. Just like my dream. "Where is my daughter, Krycek?" I asked. I didn't want to hear a retelling of how my mother died. I couldn't bear it.

"You see, Scully, it's the baby that's important. Hope, you named her, right? Wise choice. She's going to be hope for the world. Bet you never imagined that when you named her."

"Tell me where she is!" I snapped, my voice raised. "Tell me!"

"You'll never see her again, Scully," Krycek said. "But you can trust me on this. She's safe."

Trust him. Trust him, when I couldn't even trust Mulder. It was almost laughable.

His words echoed though my brain. You'll never see her again.

"I'll explain it to you, since you seem to be a little slow tonight.

You're immune to the alien virus. The vaccine Mulder gave you out in the Antarctic? Remember? And he's immune, Mulder, to the black oil.

Which makes your baby the perfect genetic specimen. For years, those bastards were trying to create an alien-human hybrid, thinking that would be the way to protect the world from the alien colonists. But why use a hybrid when you can have the real thing? Your daughter is the perfect specimen. She's-"

"She's a baby," I spat. "Not a specimen."

He shrugged. "In this case, same thing."

"Take me to her," I ordered him.

"Can't do it," he told me. "That little girl is going to be the mother of a new race."

I imagined it – my daughter, raised and bred to create others like her.

Little genetic perfections.

Krycek laughed. "It's funny what time will do to a person. I spent years being screwed over. I finally took things into my own hands to make they went the way I wanted them to. You have to do that to survive." He paused. "I recently came into some very valuable information about how you got pregnant."

I sat down in the chair across from him, finally feeling like my knees were going to give out under me. My head was spinning. I forced myself to stay calm. Listen to everything he said. He obviously wanted me to suffer by spelling everything out for me. As soon as he told me where my daughter was, I was going to kill him.

He laughed dryly. "Well, I already know how you got pregnant. You and Mulder – how long had you two been at it, anyhow? Figuring all along that you didn't need protection because you were infertile-"

"That's enough," I snapped at him. "I will not discuss my personal life with you."

"Nothing is sacred, Scully. Not even your personal life," he said. "I already know all about it. Our mutual friend, shall we say. Old Smokey?" I blinked, and he took that to mean I knew who he was talking about. "He died recently under unfortunate circumstances."

I looked at Krycek, remembering him as a fresh faced puppy dog trailing behind Mulder years ago. His hair had been gelled back, his suit expensive, his eyes ready to impress. He had changed over the years.

His face was fuller. His eyes were darker. Nothing he did was done to impress anyone anymore. I had a feeling I knew how "our mutual friend"

had died.

How did you get here, to this point, to become this person? I wanted to ask Krycek. How did we all get here?

"I was lucky enough to acquire his files," Krycek went on conversationally. "He made it possible for you to get pregnant. It's a shame, really, because this means that all of his hard work will finally reap a reward that he won't get to see."

"He what?" I practically stuttered. My mind went back to that night in the car with him. I fell asleep, and woke up in the morning wearing pajamas when I had been wearing clothes the night before. I had been angry then. My blood was pounding in my veins painfully now. What did he do to me that night?

I looked up to see Krycek watching me.

"It's not what you think," Krycek said. "Old Smokey's not the baby's father. But then again, you knew that already. You knew it was Mulder's kid all along, right? The two of you, Jesus, it's sickening.

Anyone within fifty feet who has half a brain would know what you two were up to."

I couldn't help it. My face flushed. I had always thought that we were discreet. And Krycek, who we had barely seen in months, knew. Which meant that before Mulder disappeared, everyone knew. Not that it mattered. Nothing mattered except Hope. Nothing.

"The old man didn't get into specifics. But after that night, tada you were fertile again. I'm surprised you didn't get pregnant sooner, if you and Mulder had been going at it all along." His voice was slow, careful.

"For God's sake." I was at the end of my rope. "Shut up, Krycek. I want to know where my daughter is."

"You don't listen, Scully. I told you. You'll never see her again."

"Then why are you here?" I asked, trying to determine if I would be able to kill him in cold blood. I thought about it. I could claim self-defense. I could provoke him so that it really would be self-defense. My hands were clammy. Oh God, I didn't think I could do it.

Krycek smiled, and my stomach turned. "I thought it would make you feel better to know that your daughter is alive, Scully. I thought I was doing a good thing," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

I stood up and walked over to the couch, where I sat down next to him.

I leaned in close, so close that I could smell him. He was good looking. He was power and brutality and sheer force. It radiated off him in waves. I could almost understand how someone with no morals would find him attractive. For a moment, I was almost that person – someone with no value system, someone who could take a life and not blink, not react. Someone who could walk away with him and never look back.

The moment passed.

He seemed to be enjoying himself. I smiled at him carefully. "Tell me where my daughter is, Krycek, or I will kill you."

He chuckled. "No you won't. I know you, Scully. Better than you think. You would never do it."

He got up, started to walk to the door. I followed, picking up my gun as I went. I turned off the safety. Krycek stopped, but didn't turn around.

"Nice effort, Scully. But I know you won't do it."

"Just let me see her," I pleaded, ashamed at how desperate I sounded.

"Just tell me where she is." He turned around to face me, a wide smile on his face. "Please," I begged. "She's my child. Please."

Krycek looked from my face to the gun, wavering in my hand, then back up to my face.

"I hope you took lots of pictures," he said. "That's all you'll ever have of her."

I wanted to pull the trigger right then, but he spun around and left my apartment, without saying another word.

I was still holding the gun, pointing it uselessly at the closed door.

I could go after him. Into the hallway, down the stairs, into the street, and shoot him there. But my feet wouldn't move.

I lowered the gun after a few long minutes, barely aware that I was still holding it. There was nothing left for me. My mother. My father. My sister. My child. All gone, like sand that slips through open fingers.

There was a brief moment where I thought about putting the gun to my own head. I had never been suicidal before; never dreamed of self-destruction. But in that moment, I understood the despair of people who had taken their lives. I felt it in every cell of my body.

I looked at the gun. Hard, cold steel in my hand. I thought about the fact that guns were designed to wound, to kill. The bullets designed to find forbidden entry into the body, exploding, causing damage in their wake. I imagined my own autopsy if I were to shoot myself in the head, blood and brains dripping onto the silvery table in a morgue.

I couldn't do it. It was no surprise. My daughter was still out there, somewhere, and I had to find her. I would spend my whole life doing it, if I needed to. Until I took my last breath, I would look for her.

And then I realized there was someone I needed to talk to.

I couldn't go to him right away.

The next night, late, I knocked on Mulder's apartment door lightly, seeing the silver of light below the door, assuring myself that he was still awake.

He opened the door and his face registered surprise when he saw me standing there.

He was clean-shaven, finally, his hair trimmed neatly. He was still thin, so thin, but he looked more like the Mulder I knew than the man I had found in the Oregon woods.

"Scully-" he started, but I stopped him.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm so sorry, Mulder." The words were sincere.

Mulder could tell. My voice cracked as I spoke. His face softened.

He took my arm, guided me into his apartment, shutting the door behind us.

I walked over to the couch and sat down. I realized that Mulder had not yet gotten settled in his home again – he had been back less than a week and had obviously not spent much time here since his return. The room smelled musty.

I had sifted through his apartment with a fine-toothed comb after he had disappeared, searching for something, anything. When I had been satisfied that there was nothing there to lead me to him, I locked the door behind me and didn't go back. I stopped by to collect the bills once a week and paid the rent and utilities every month, just waiting, waiting. I told myself that he would be back. I told myself that his return was inevitable – that it was just a matter of time. He would need somewhere to stay. He might not want to move in with Hope and I right away. He would want his space. I had covered every possibility.

I couldn't come into the apartment after my initial search. It was too strong, too overwhelming. It wasn't just the fact that the apartment smelled of him. Everything I looked at brought a flood of memories.

The couch where we would watch movies. The computer, where he would work and I would lean over his shoulder, deliberately breathing softly against his ear, just where I knew it would make him lose his train of thought and shudder from arousal. The bed where we made love. The floor where we fucked when we were too overcome with each other to make it to the bed. The kitchen counter where he had cornered me early one morning. I had been wearing only his shirt, and he dropped to his knees, pushing the shirt up around me, grasping my buttocks with his warm hands, and burying his mouth and nose in me, licking and suckling me until I came, crying out, holding his head.

"Scully?" Mulder asked, and I looked up at him.

I told him about my visit from Krycek. His fists tightened as I talked, his jaw clenching.

"I'll find him," he said, when I had run out of words. "We'll find him."

"I don't know that we will, Mulder. Now that he's told me, I think he'll be inclined to stay hidden so that we can't find him. Or Hope."

I imagined it: trying to go back to my life before Hope. Letting the milk dry up in my breasts, moving the crib out of her room and repainting, turning the room back into a guest room, or a study, or as it was before, storage space. I would have to put a picture of Hope in the drawer in my desk where I kept the picture of Emily.

I couldn't do it. I couldn't live without her.

"I'm going to make sure you don't have to," Mulder said, startling me.

I hadn't realized I had spoken aloud.

The thought suddenly hit me, like a rocket, and I broke down. "She won't remember me," I cried. "She'll never know who I was."

Mulder sat next to me on the couch and took me in his arms, holding me, soothing me. Part of me wanted to pull away, afraid of what he might say, or do. But he just held me.

When my tears subsided, I pulled away and looked up at him.

"Why did you come to me?" he asked finally.

"How could I not?"

He smiled, sadly. "You don't trust me. You were scared of me."

I didn't respond. He was right, of course – I was still unsure around him. Yet the worst was over. He couldn't say anything more to destroy me. My mother was been found and laid to rest. My daughter. I didn't know why, but I believed Krycek. I didn't believe that my child was dead.

Somewhere in my heart, I felt like I would know. If her life was over, I would somehow know. Sense it. And although I had been grieving her loss, I realized that it was her absence that I was grieving, not her death.

She wasn't dead. She was out there, somewhere, I told myself.

"I don't think you would hurt me," I told Mulder, carefully.

He lowered his head. "I hurt you with the things I said."

"It wasn't you saying them," I heard myself rationalize.

"It was my mouth, Scully. My voice. My words."

His words were soaked with guilt.

"I don't know what's done this to you," I told him. "Some kind of reaction from when you were gone, maybe..."

"Since you found me," he started, slowly, cautiously, "there've been gaps in my memory. Spaces of time that I can't account for."

I nodded. I could account for them.

"It scares me, Scully," he confessed, then looked up at me. "And I don't expect you to take that as some kind of indication that you should comfort me for that admission, try to make me feel better. You shouldn't. Not after the things I said."

But I wanted to. Sitting there on his couch in the half-light of the room, I wanted nothing more than to wrap myself around him, become part of him. I wanted to take the last eight years and make the bad parts go away, make it so that Mulder and I worked on government fraud, wiretap detail, anything but conspiracy. If I could only turn back the clock, make it all go away. Bring back my mother from the dead. My sister.

Mulder's father. His mother.

It wasn't that easy, of course. If I had met Mulder the wiretap expert, he wouldn't have been the man I fell in love with. I wouldn't be the woman I was now. Turning back the clock would accomplish nothing.

Bringing back the dead was not a way to move forward.

"I think I know what caused my behavior," he told me. I looked at him.

"Emotionally charged moments. When...when I was gone, I would try to retreat into myself when things got...bad. Maybe I was doing the same thing, but that doesn't explain why I don't remember the things I said or why I said them."

He seemed hesitant, not ready. I touched his arm. "You don't have to talk about it yet," I told him. "What happened while you were gone."

"I don't even know if I can talk about it, Scully. I don't even know what I remember. So much of it is a blur."

We sat in silence for a long time. Minutes passed. Finally Mulder spoke.

"I keep feeling like I have to choose...what to put first. And I know Hope comes first."

"Ahead of what?"

"Ahead of finding out what happened to me. What I can't remember. But I worry. I worry that if I don't know, I won't be of any use when it comes to finding her. And I want to find her, Scully. It's the most important thing."

I looked him over. His eyes were so earnest. So focused.

"I need to have what you had. That time with her. You got to know her in a way that I don't understand. And to be honest, I'm envious of you...that you had that and I didn't." His voice was soft, filled with regret.

"She has red hair," I told him. "But you saw that in the picture." He nodded. "Hazel eyes."

That got a smile from him.

"How...how did she feel?"

I sighed, looked at my lap. "Small. Fragile, but unbreakable. Soft.

She smelled...fresh."

"Fresh like rain? Fresh like laundry?"

I shook my head. "Fresh. Sweet. I can't describe it."

I looked up at him. His eyes were pleading with me. "Try, Scully. Try to describe it. Try to describe everything. I want to know everything."

I started at the beginning. How I fainted, fell into the arms of the Lone Gunmen. How they took me to the hospital. Seeing Hope for the first time on the ultrasound, just a speck, so tiny, almost unbelievable.

"You were sick in Oregon," Mulder said. "Did it get worse? Tell me."

It dawned on me that all that time, all through my pregnancy, I had wanted to tell him everything that was happening to me.

"I wish I'd kept a journal," I said, regretful.

"You did," he told me.

I looked at him quizzically.

"Your mind, Scully," he told me, seriously, "is the most detailed, perfect, evocative journal."

And so I went back into my mind, into my journal of thoughts, of memory. He wanted to know everything. Every detail he had missed.

Every moment. Each wave of nausea, each kick, each mood swing.

His eyes lit up as I told him about Hope's face when she yawned. When she nursed. When she slept. He laughed as I told him what it was like when I changed her diaper for the first time, clumsily. He smiled as I told him about later, as I got used to it, how it came effortlessly.

Time slipped by. Hours passed. We kept talking. And when it got late, so late that it was early, we both got up and went back to my apartment.

Mulder stood in Hope's room, his fingers touching the little stars hanging from delicate threads on the mobile over the crib.

I stood, watching him.

"Did she sleep through the night?" he wanted to know.

I shrugged. "Not yet. Two or three hours at a stretch, at the most."

Dawn was beginning to break. Pink streaks painted the sapphire sky, making the lemon colored walls of Hope's room glow. I crossed the room and went over to the window.

"She's waking up somewhere right now," I murmured.

Mulder walked over to me, stood close, as I looked outside.

"How many mornings, Mulder?" I asked him. "How many mornings will she have to wake up without me there? Will she wake up one morning somewhere else and be ten years old? Twenty?"

He put his arms around me loosely, leaning into me. His body was warm.

My hands rested on the windowsill, gleaming pink from the sunrise.

"No," he said simply.

He rested his cheek against my neck, his lips lightly kissing the pulse there. He lifted his head.

"We're going to bring her home."


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